Opening sequence compare and contrast – Halloween (1978) & Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This classic horror films are some of the best films to come out of the horror genre as a whole, the thrilling plot line, superb leading characters and the completely terrifying villains are why I have decided to pick these two films. The aspects I will be looking at are Technical codes, representation, Iconography, Narrative and ideology. These films could be argued to be old fashioned but I honestly believe they both have set the tone for many horror franchises. I feel both these films show many ways to project horror and both have clear links to horror in their opening sequences.
First I would like to look at technical codes these are all things that fall under the micro elements category. In both openings the lighting is dark and harsh, this is low key lighting which already sets up the idea of a bleak storyline. This also sets the tone of the film for the audience as they automatically know these are horror films and are going to be dark. The camera work is different in each opening though, in the Halloween its point of vies shot as if we are the killer. This adds an element of fear for the audience as they have to follow the killing as if they are doing it. Shows a lack of control which also adds to the emotions we attach to the killer later in the story. The only similarity between these openings is the use of the setting in the shots, both leads us around a setting and makes us feel out of place. To contrast these we have the camerawork in the opening to Nightmare on Elm Street, this opening is filled with a mixture of shots. This adds to the chaos of the whole film and the mind of Freddie Kruger. With a mix of close up shot, tracking and long shots just create a confusing perception from the outset. This is matched with the quick cuts of shots and fast paced editing which contrasts the continuous one shot from the opening of Halloween. The use of sound in both clips is unsettling, both use there known theme tune to alert the audience that something bad is going to happen. This is create tension and leaving the audience on the end of their seat. To add to this Nightmare on Elm Street uses an array of heightened sounds created by Freddie to leave the audience scared and anxious. This could possibly be seen in Halloween with the female characters scream near the end of the clip.
Both clips use Teenagers in there clips as the victims to the killer, both characters are also female and seen to be weak in contrast to the killer. This already a clear representation of how females will be preserved in the film. Nether film sets out the idea of the finale girl theory in the clip but this does not rule out that idea yet. In the opening of Halloween we see teens negatively as they are sexually active even though they are such a young age. They are also shown as irresponsible as the female character says her younger brother is around somewhere, this shows her lack of care towards him and sets up the reckless nature that teens are seen to have. This is contrasted in the opening to Nightmare on Elm Street, the girl is in white which links to idea of innocents and virtue. This idea is linked later on in the opening scene as she awakes in her room and we see a cross above her bed which associations to the idea of purity and morality. This shows a strict divide in both films towards the first female character we are introduced to.
Both films use Iconography highly in there openings, the opening to Halloween shows us an isolated house which is typical to the horror genre. This use of a remote location is seen again in Nightmare on Elm Street with the abandoned boiler room. These both are used to create the idea of isolation which create tension as we know that the character will not be able to find help in dire situations. The props in both films also signify the idea of horror and fear, in Halloween we are shown a classic horror weapon which in this case in a knife. This links to the idea of death and fear, this could be linked to the use of the knife in Psycho – 1960. Both use the basic weapon to carry fear instead of illustrating the horror clearly on camera. This leaves the audience to attach their own emotions to the murder. This is scene clearly in the opening of Halloween. The use of an unconventional weapon in Nightmare on Elm Street create the fear of the unknown as we are uncomfortable with the use of such a strange weapon. This attaches a different meaning to an audience as they feel unsettles with the idea of something so strange. This is a contrast the classic knife idea. The use of a glove with blades generates more danger for the victims also but create an icon for the franchise.
Both of these openings have a simple narrative of the three act structure, both have a calm, disruption, calm layout. This is to set up the horror idea and the fear towards the killer in both. We are unable to attach Propp’s character roles to these opening as we have not seen enough characters or how the film plays out to link so many different meanings and personas to such a limited character selection we have been introduced to. We are instantly introduced to a killer which already shows it’s a good vs evil plot line. This is a basic narrative idea but is often used in the horror genre as we like good concurring evil in any film.
Both the opening create many forms of ideology throughout their openings, some of these are the idea of hell, motherhood, sexual repression and sin. In the opening of Nightmare on Elm Street we are shown a cross showing the idea of religion which could link the nightmare of Freddie Kroger possibly symbolising the impression of hell. This could be seen through the use of red and fire as this young girl finds herself in this world. This could also be argued as Freddie could be seen the devil of this story with his red clothing a horrific idea of revenge. The opening to Halloween is a contrast to this using a normal suburban house as its setting. In the center of one of the shots we see a rocking chair this symbolize motherhood and the idea of childhood this could be used to show the action the teens are doing could lead to parenthood. As the scene continues the murderer kills the teens for their sin as they are not married. The murderer also kills the female right after sex, this could show that the murderer is sexually repressed and feels he needs to kill as he is not allowed to do such actions.
Overall I feel I have shown how both openings compare and contrast through many different technical elements, the way both create a different feel of horror is a contrast to one another. The use of the classic horror idea mixed with their own individual ideas makes both so scary to an audience such as Nightmare on Elm Street use of an unconventional weapon creates a different idea of fear to a the knife used in Halloween. But the idea of sexual repression gives Halloween its own attachment to fear. This alongside its use of point of view shot just makes the film oh so much scarier. Both are such brilliant examples of horror and classic horror in some cases I feel these films will never be out dated with due to their thrilling storylines and hallowing themes. I feel both films do the horror genre superb justice and will continue to do so.